Finding information for your assignments
The University Library has a wide range of material to help you find information for your assignments. Many of these resources are available online so you can do your own research at home or on campus. The University Library page is at http://www.une.edu.au/library. Some of the online material (and your online units) will require you to enter your UNE username and password before you will be able to gain access. You can register online if you don't already have a UNE username and password.
This page will help you to find information sources for your assignments.
- Combining your keywords
- Truncation and Wildcards
- Choosing the right information tools
- Understanding your references
- Evaluate your information
You have your first assignment. Where do you start?
- Analyse your question. Write a few descriptive sentences about your topic and then underline the main words.
- Use these to create a list of keywords and phrases.
- Remember to include similar words and alternative spellings.
- Consult dictionaries and encyclopaedias (online and in books) for background information and clear definitions of your terms and phrases.
- Your search results are more likely to match your topic if you combine your keywords. The usual and most effective way to do this is to use Boolean operators.
- These connectors can be used when searching library catalogues, journal indexes and the World Wide Web.
- The three main Boolean operators are AND, OR and NOT.
AND will narrow your search by finding only those records that contain both of the terms greenhouse effect and antarctica.
OR widens your search by finding items with either or both of your terms. This is useful for spelling variations (behavior or behaviour), plurals and alternative terms such as e-commerce or electronic commerce or internet marketing.
NOT provides you with a way to narrow your search by excluding terms. In the example below you would find items that mention vegetables but exclude any that contain the word carrots.
- These are useful techniques for varying your search terms when you are working out your keyword combinations.
- Truncation is a way to look for your keyword with different endings in the same search. nurs* will find nurse, nurses, nursed, nursing, nursery and nurseries. The usual symbol is an asterisk * but it may be a ! or # or $.
- Wildcards replace single characters and are great for plurals and spelling variations. organi?ation? will find organization/s and organisation/s.
- Remember to check in the online Help of the information tool you are using for the correct symbols for truncation and wildcards.
- Catalogues tell you the books, journals (print and online) and audiovisual resources that are held in a particular library.
- You can find out an item's Call Number and if it is available to be borrowed.
- To search UNE's catalogue, click on the catalogue button on the University Library page.
- To learn how to use the University Library catalogue, try working through the eSKILLS UNE tutorial on using the library catalogue.
- A library catalogue will not tell you the details of articles published in journals. To discover these you will need to use the next information tool.
- Journal indexes are the appropriate tool for finding journal articles published about your specific topic.
- Indexes vary in what they offer. Some provide abstracts (a brief summary of an article's content), some the complete full-text article, some are multidisciplinary and others are subject specific. They may be international in coverage or largely about Australian material.
- Click on Find articles to see UNE's range of online journal indexes.
- There is an extensive tutorial called Finding journal articles in eSKILLS UNE.
- If an article you want is not available online in full-text, look for the icon or use the catalogue and look for the title of the journal (not the article) to see if it is held at UNE in print or online in another index.
Web search tools
- Search engines (like Google, WebWombat and AltaVista) are indexes to the contents of pages on the Web.
- Subject directories arrange Web sites by subject area. Examples are Yahoo and the WWW Virtual Library.
- Meta-search engines look through a number of search engines and subject directories at the same time, like AskJeeves, Metacrawler and DogPile.
- Look in the eSKILLS UNE tutorial, Using the World Wide Web.
- Your unit co-ordinator may have given you a list of references.
- Sometimes these references are placed in the University Library's Reserve Collection. You can find out by looking in the catalogue using a Reserve search using your unit code or instructor's name. You can use the e-reserve link on the University Library page if you only want to see the subset of the Reserve Collection which is available electronically.
- Ask a librarian at a library near you or at UNE. Telephone the Information Desk on 02 6773 2458 during opening hours or use the Ask a Librarian service on the University Library page. Distance Student Enquiries are toll-free on 1800 059 735.
- Computing help is provided by the IT Service Desk. Call 02 6773 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You can work at your own pace through the skills outlined in eSKILLS UNE.
Deegan, C.M. 2003, Environmental Management Accounting, Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, Sydney.
The publisher and place of publication tell you this is a book. In a library catalogue you could search for the book title or the author's family name.
Chapters in books
Fels, A. 1991, 'The role of the Prices Surveillance Authority in a climate of deregulation', in Deregulation or Better Regulation? Issues for the Public Sector, eds B. Head & E. McCoy, Macmillan, South Melbourne, pp. 80-87.
Fels is the author of a chapter within a book that has been edited by B. Head and E. McCoy. You could do a title search in the catalogue for deregulation or better regulation or an author search for either editor.
Henderson, S., Andrews, G. & Hall, W. 2000, 'Australia's mental health: An overview of the general population survey', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 197-205.
Notice that there is no publisher listed. To locate this article you need to search in the catalogue for the title of the journal (not the article). If available, click on a URL to go to an electronic copy: alternatively, check the holdings to see if the volume you want is in the library.
Walsh, B. 1998 (updated 18 October 2005), 'The moths of southeastern Arizona', University of Arizona. Retrieved 21 November 2005 from http://nitro.biosci.arizona.edu/zeeb/butterflies/mothlist.html.
Web documents are identified by their URL (web Address or Location).
Before using the information you have found for your assignments, make sure you continually review it for quality. Look for
- relevance to your topic. Do you need primary or secondary sources of information? Is your source too general or too full of specialised jargon?
- currency. Do you need very recent information or would older material be more appropriate?
- reliability. Check the author for credentials or the publisher's reputation. Are articles in scholarly, refereed or peer-reviewed journals? Be particularly careful of material on the Web.
- accuracy. Are facts and statistics up-to-date?
- coverage. Do you need Australian or international material? Are all aspects covered or just one or two?
Library staff are happy to help you. Phone 02 6773 2458 during Library opening hours or Ask a Librarian online.